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Michelle Obama speech: Adds Dad to Ann Romney’s tired mom

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After all, according to her words last night, it was Barack who, “when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.”

And it’s the president who sits at the dinner table answering Malia’s and Sasha’s questions about issues in the news, “and strategizing about middle school friendships.”

Now, we'll leave the political analysis to others. But it’s hard not to see something substantial in the way Obama and Romney spoke about that oh-so-common candidate spouse subject of family. Something that perhaps goes even deeper than the more overtly political lines in Obama's speech, such as the praise for her husband’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act “to help women get equal pay for equal work,” or how “he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care.”

It would be too simplistic to label this as a “mommy wars” issue, although Obama’s reference to specific policies certainly contrasted to Romney’s assertion that she didn’t want to talk about politics, but about love. Look at what each speech included, and did not include, and one can perhaps glimpse contrasting ways of looking at the world – or at least the relationship between moms and dads, dads and kids, young women and current events, work and home.

While both sides talked much about parenting, one might argue – no value judgement here, folks – that the GOP tended to equate that with “mothering,” and “women’s issues” with “mom’s issues.” The Dems seemed to give more weight to both parents, and present all of those questions of financial aid and work and child care as family issues.

All the political pundits say that women are a key constituency in this presidential election. Both sides are courting those voters; the GOP lined up the best and most powerful of their female figures to give keynote speeches; the Democrats reiterated their claim that the Republicans are waging a “War on Women.”

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